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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I picked up a 2006 XC90. I got a good price. However, it does have the anti-skid service required message. The steering doesn't respond right away. It feels loose, disconnected and doesn't respond immediately to input. There seems to be a lot of play in the wheel, meaning I have to turn it 15° either way before it really responds. I'm not sure if the steering wheel sensor could cause this. The struts were supposedly replaced, and an alignment presumably done, but I doubt the sensor was recalibrated as the week was not done by a volvo dealer. To be honest, I'm really not even sure I believe the struts were recently replaced. Any input is appreciated!
 

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2008 XC90 3.2
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First thing I would do is take pics of all the suspension components. The bushings, ball joints, struts, end links, etc. I find it easier to take pics and then I can zoom in on my computer to do further investigation on the condition. You will need to do this to get a baseline of your (new to your) XC90.

The steering angle sensor could have been replaced, but it might not be the issue. Reading the codes is the only way to really know. Either go to someone who has VIDA or to the dealership.

How many miles are on the XC90? It might be due for a front-end rebuild of the suspension using the right brand of components.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It has 183k, but a suspension rebuild seems excessive. The control arms are new. Tightened a sway link. Tie rods are tight. Subframe bushings look rough, but I have a tough time believing they could make the steering this bad. Driver CV axle is bad, but that shouldn't affect steering in this way. I'm considering giving the ipd subframe bushing inserts a try. What I'm really unsure about is if the steering wheel sensor could affect the steering responsiveness. If I can't find someone with vida, I will take it to a dealer before replacing the sensor.
 

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Just based on your info, it could be a combination of the subframe bushings and possibly the control arms if they are not original Volvo units. Do you know the brand of control arms?

The subframe bushings can definitely give a numb/vague steering response. The inserts should help there if you cannot replace the bushings, but caution. Only do the rearward bushing inserts. If the XC90 spent its time in the snowy midwest, then the forward subframe bushing bolts will most likely break upon removal due to rust fusing it to the threads. This has been discussed many times here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I doubt the control arms are Volvo, unfortunately. However, I know the vehicle was in Florida as of 2017 based on documents in the glove box. I suppose I can replace the subframe bushings the right way if necessary. I'm just hoping to keep cost down, especially if I can't pinpoint the exact problem.
 

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If you can turn the wheel 15 degrees and nothing happens, I'd crawl under there and see where the motion is going. Something should be moving, and something it's connected to not moving, or not moving the right way. Look closely at the control arms.

The steering angle sensor doesn't control the steering; it's only a sensor. If it detects a 15° change in steering angle and no change in vehicle direction, that could be the source of the anti-skid service message.
 

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You can see the steering shaft turn at the rack, if the tie rods don't move, there's your issue. If the steering shaft doesn't move, then it's further up in the column. There have been steering rack issues as well as the U-joint in the steering shaft. Either way, even when the car is parked and off, you should not have 15 degrees of play rocking the steering wheel.
 

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Steering wheel sensor is just that, a sensor. It will not cause mechanical "play" with steering.

An additional troubleshooting approach might be to lift one side of the front with the other side on the ground and wiggle the "up wheel" side to side. If you have excessive play, you'll note it (with or without sound). You should be able to place your hand on the moving parts of the up side of the suspension as you rock side to side on the wheel (ball joint as one example), and hopefully get closer to the root cause. Try the same thing on the other side.

At 183k miles, whole bunch of front suspension parts are already worn out. No idea all that has been replaced, the previous post advice for troubleshooting is good to follow in order to omit suspension component(s) as the culprit(s). Can absolutely be more than one individual contributor to the excessive play given the age of the vehicle, keep that in mind.

If in the end it's a worn steering rack that seems to be your cause, you'll want to vet the innner and outer tie rod ends (TRE) first, make sure they're solid. If TREs check out fine but you still have the excessive play, could be that the rack is just worn out. It's possible to re-tighten the rack yoke but at this mileage it's just a mitigation and most likely won't last. I have replacement racks in both vehicles (I drive them hard and I'm picky).

Let's see how far you get with the troubleshooting advice in the previous posts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The for all the input! I had my wife turn the wheels as I laid underneath. Everything looks to be functioning properly. However, I noticed that the power steering fluid is brown. I guess I need a new rack then, huh? Any chance it just needs to be bled and replaced with new fluid?
 

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The power steering fluid is for the turning effort, not the vagueness or extra play between turning the steering wheel and the vehicle reacting. Change the fluid though to prevent more expense later. Use the correct fluid, not an all-purpose power steering fluid from the local store. Not sure which engine you have since you didn't state it, but the fluid could be CHF 11S.

What do you mean functioning properly? The posts here have good suggestions on how to check if components are functioning properly.

1. Is there a delay when the steering wheel is turned to when the wheels turn when parked?
2. Is there a delay from when the steering wheel is turned to when the tie rods move? If you can see, a delay to when the steering shaft is moved?
3. Do you see the control arm bushings flex and compress when you turn the wheel side to side? (It should not and new control arms can have issues too if they are not Genuine Volvo)
4. Can you see if the entire front shifts (even a little) when the steering wheel is turned? Looking for subframe bushings.
5. Any clicks or clunks in any scenario? At any time?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
1. Is there a delay when the steering wheel is turned to when the wheels turn when parked?

Visually, everything seems to turn as soon as the wheel is turned, including the wheels themselves.

2. Is there a delay from when the steering wheel is turned to when the tie rods move? If you can see, a delay to when the steering shaft is moved?

Again, the tire rods appear to move in conjunction with the steering wheel and wheels. When parked, no issues are noticeable.

3. Do you see the control arm bushings flex and compress when you turn the wheel side to side? (It should not and new control arms can have issues too if they are not Genuine Volvo)

I did not notice flex in the control arm bushings.

4. Can you see if the entire front shifts (even a little) when the steering wheel is turned? Looking for subframe bushings.

It might shift a little...

5. Any clicks or clunks in any scenario? At any time?

Definitely clunks over rough terrain. Although the driver CV axle is throwing grease, it doesn't click. I'll replace this, but want to fix the steering concerns first - I can't imagine how a CV axle would cause my steering issue.

Thanks again for all the help! I really appreciate it.
 

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If there's no slop in the suspension, your issues could be related to alignment. However, if the sub frame is moving in response to moving the steering wheel, that could be some (or all) of the problem, too. Lastly, you can never look to closely at the lower control arms...
 

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As above, the geometry may cause such 'vague' steering feeling, especially as the car gets at speed. I would expect the subframe to move very slightly because the bushings are no longer that stiff, but even at 180K miles they should still be quite solid. The ones on mine are really soft - I tested them - yet my steering is not really vague, not tight, but not vague either

Look first into the geometry. Also I had a past experience that sounds very particular and was very hard to diagnose. I did install on an old car some cheap ball joints, then hit an average pothole. The ball joint was so cheap, the stud bent slightly and changed the geometry of that wheel (not sure which alignment, perhaps the caster or something like that). The steering wheel started to feel so disconnect at 50mph, I honestly thought my steering got disconnected from the wheels. Went to several garages and none could find any play or loose part anywhere - even the cheap ball joint had no play. Finally, I recalled having installed that cheap ball joint, went to the dealer, got new genuine ones, and bam! Tight steering again. A really tough one, but that's what happens when we use el cheapo parts - by the way this was on a 1990 Honda Civic, back in the days.

Speaking of the clunk clunk, that may well be either the end links or worse, the anti-roll bar to the subframe bushings (fun to replace and $$$)
 

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Ball joint, seems like yesterday- https://forums.swedespeed.com/showt...oint-Replacement-and-Non-OE-Parts-Observation , this was on the '05. Was not loose steering, although as noted above, the steering felt a little unstable at speed. Worn ball joint (old OE or not so old aftermarket) is just another data point to consider. There are a lot of miles on this vehicle with no real front suspension baseline so it's entirely possibly your problem could well be a combination of more than one component, ball joint included. Engine?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's the V8. Unfortunately I can't see the steering shaft. There's too much engine in the way 😂
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well...I got the diagnosis today. I need a steering gear. Shocker. My next question, how can I tell if I have speed assisted steering? My tires are235/65/R17 - it seems that this may be important to know, but I'm confused by the different things I'm seeing on different parts websites. There seem to be several different names for speed assisted steering and different websites seem to suggest different things. Other problems - strut mounts, sway links and the known cv axle - also, my clock spring is on its way out.

For those interested, the stealership I bought the car from claimed to have "serviced" the struts - nope...
 

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Speed assisted has an electrical connector on the pinion neck. This is a '06 2.5T with 17s, I'll lean towards it NOT being speed assisted but check with a dealer and they'll know for sure. If you can grab a PN off the rack that's in your vehicle, you might be able to look up one of the OE parts sites and see what it was superseded by, or someone here can check for you.

OE is ZF, you'll find quite a few rebuilds around and if by any chance you can grab a proper ZF reman, you'll be happy. Old post somewhere about my replacement, exact same story- first a regular reman with a 3yr warranty, started getting loose and knocking after 2 years and I traded "up" for the ZF reman, been fine ever since. For this one in my opinion it's worth spending the extra money.

I really don't want to try and diagnose such an expensive problem for you by proxy so it may not be your rack, but the truth is these vehicles are not trucks and the steering racks do wear out.

Good luck with your repair.
 

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Lube the two U-joints with white lithium and itll be fine. And change the power steering fluid.

And re the anti-skid, look for my post. I figured out the fix... need to clean the metal slit plate thats inside the SAS with soap and water.
 
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